Sunday, February 17, 2008

Maxine Sullivan: The 1930 Census As Alice M. Williams?

from 2/5/07 I was curious to see if I could find Maxine in the 1930 census. Her real name was Marietta Williams and according to the Times' article she lived in Homestaed, Pa.
"In interviews given before her death, Maxine Sullivan liked to tell the story of how the pint-size daughter of a barber from Homestead, a small town near Pittsburgh, achieved international acclaim as a jazz singer.
During her late teens, after winning local singing contests and performing with her uncle’s band, she landed a gig at an eight-table former speakeasy in Pittsburgh called the Benjamin Harrison Literary Club. Singing from table to table, she earned $14 a week plus tips.
One night in late 1936, a pianist named Gladys Mosier came by the club and encouraged Ms. Sullivan to try her singing where it really mattered, in New York. It took Ms. Sullivan six months to save up enough for a weekend excursion ticket, and she told no one that she was going, figuring that she’d probably be back in Pittsburgh in time for her regular engagement."

Well, there were no Marietta Williams in all of Pa, so I did a search for M Williams. My other search option was to put in an age which would have been 19 in 1930. Still no luck, but there were some Williams' with M as a middle initial who were 19 in a Pittsburgh county. Through trial and error (eliminating those that were White) I came up with the above. According to the article her father was a barber, not a plumber as listed. I don't know which is correct. A good clue that this could be her is that in the census it says she works as a clerk in a book store, which would be a cover for someone who is a singer in a speakeasy "front" called the Benjamin Harrison Literary Club.


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